The motion to vacate Judge Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8 has been filed, you can read it here. Since the original post, I have detected some cracks in the formerly near-united front of legal ethicists and journalists deriding Walker’s critics. Some of them are finally, grudgingly, admitting that the Judge might not have handled his potential conflict so well after all, and that the motion is not a frivolous, anti-gay outrage as they originally labelled it. The most rickety of the rationalizations put forth on Walker’s behalf, advanced by some his most respected defenders, is that he had no obligation to reveal his own sexual orientation by disclosing his domestic arrangement because of its intimate and private nature. Yet the judge voluntarily disclosed it after his decision was in the books, raising a rebuttable presumption that his original silence was to avoid suggestions of conflict, not out of a desire for privacy.
First time commenter Jada adds her Comment of the Day to the discussion:
“Judge Walker is not automatically assumed to be biased simply because he is gay. His bias comes from a possible personal stake he had in the ruling. It’s as simple as that. Even if he and his partner of 10 years had no plan to marry, in all likelihood he socialized with other gay people, some of whom may have married in the short time frame it was legal. Is it so inconceivable that a man who planned to retire in a year might not want to alienate his friends and associates and become a social pariah in a community that he was intimately acquainted with?
“I know how strongly people feel about this issue but a little honesty is in order. How much faith would the average American have in this judicial ruling were they to become aware that a partnered gay judge from San Francisco struck down a constitutional amendment declaring gay marriage illegal? A great many Americans already view our political system as corrupt. So far, the judicial branch still has some standing but something like this would be one more nail in the coffin Americans have in the confidence in our judicial system. The belief in a fair and impartial judiciary is all that protects us from rampant lawlessness. Who would feel beholden to obey a law they believed to be derived from overt bias and self-gain? However much some people want gay marriage, is it worth that?”